Jun 30, 2002

The Return
So it has been too long since I posted. Is it my fault? Well it is but that’s not the point. The point is…, well I guess there isn’t one.

Jun 26, 2002

“People don’t have enough creativity.”
My sister writes of my defense of flower eating and other things strange.
Sounding Normal
Sometimes there is a real disadvantage to growing up on the West Coast. That blasted broadcast-standard way of talking. Pretty much every accent has some charm and no one is as truly devoid of accents as we are.

And sometimes, the accent makes all the difference.

Jun 25, 2002

Dylan Thomas
This afternoon I read “Dylan,” a play by Sidney Michaels that was preformed (with Alec Guinness in the title role) at the Plymouth Theatre, New York City on January 18, 1964.

I am an admirer Dylan Thomas, have read his poems, read about him and written about him. He was a poet’s poet. He lived the legend of the poet. And his poetry was good. Some people seem to forget that or perhaps never to grasp that.

Some of the lines in this play I found fascinating and insightful. Here’s a sampling.

The poet, scared of growing older in a way reminiscent of T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock, says:

“All I can think about now is money. Like every other poet since time began. I tell you, I must be growing up or something. And I don’t like it. I’m sacred. I’m scared to the bone. I used to look like some f’ing angel or something. In my cherubim-twenties, when your great Augustus John pled with me to pose of him, and the day you were so wild to have met me, the very year Dame Edith Sitwell up’d and said I was the only lyric poet of the twentieth century and, my God, I really didn’t think I was that good, but I suppose she knew what she was talking about. Well, it all came easier. Came easier and went easier. The beer went down easier, it was easier breathing. I’ve got uglier now. I’ve put on weight like a man who’s middle-aged. My heir’s darker. I’m dirtier and smaller. The callus on my finger from the pencil’s big as an egg. Stained. Cigarettes. From hack work—for money—for travelogues—for writing “as we sail of into the sunset and leave the beautiful Isle of Birdspit.” (Pause) I haven’t written a new poem in a terribly long time. Take the last BBC broadcast I did; d’you know, Cat, I was suddenly aware there I was reading the best of me and it was all fifteen-year-old stuff.” [pp. 10-11]

Later the playwright gives a cute little nod to the complexity of Thomas and also hits the attitude of the poet:

“REPORTER Speaking of clairity. Some of us, Dylan, have had trouble understanding your poems.

DYLAN Then you should read Robert Frost.” [pp. 17]

Just because we’re talking about him, here’s one of his best poems:


In my craft or sullen art
Excercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their greifs in their arms,
I labor by the singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the Raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Not for the Towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the greifs of ages
Who pay no praise of wages
Nor heed my craft or art.
Washed-up Hack of an Artist
A washed-up reporter in the newsroom, an old reporter who never rose to a paper of any size and still here with the J-school grads and the J-school students, being criticized and teased because of a poor bit of grammar says, says with laughter and self-deprecation and without a trace of bitterness:

“I am an artist among hacks.”
As seen on the wall...
First Graffito: “Don’t let the media tell you who you are!”
Second Graffito: “Don’t let graffiti tell you what to do.”
Booklovers’ Pilgrimage
Jeffery Nelson and I just made our yearly pilgrimage to Powell’s, in Portland, Ore. We drove for four hours to go to this bookstore on a rainy Monday. After the bookstore we walked around a little bit and drove four hours home.

Powell’s is a bookstore, not that this really tells you what it is. It is the bookstore.

Powell’s is one square block, four stories high and full of books. Used books mixed with new books. Paperback mixed with hardback. If books were a religion this would be Mecca. Everyone upon entering this temple would genuflect and make the sign of the book.

It is the bookstore to end all bookstores. When you walk into Powell’s and get splendidly lost, facing the wave upon wave of books shelves, you know the search for the greatest bookstore in all the land has ended. I have found it and its name is Powell's.

As far as I know it is the biggest bookstore in the world. I should know. I am a great bibliophile and bookstore connoisseur and I have gone on a quest for the worlds-greatest bookstore. Powell's is larger than anything on the West Coast and it is larger than New York City’s largest bookstore, Strands.

There are a few American cities left to check. Perhaps Chicago or maybe Atlanta might be able to compete. But probably not. Powell’s is so huge they have to color code the rooms to keep things sorted out. I’ve lived in towns smaller than that bookstore. If there is a larger one, which I doubt, it would have to in Rome or somewhere like that.

The experience of that place. The opportunity unbounded. The splendor of the books and the glory of the pages.

Oh the books.
Splendily Esoteric Post about Words
Here’s the sort of esoteric post that I find really interesting. Of course, it’s not just esoteric but it’s also about words and I’ll fall for any interesting writing about writing/language/words.

Jun 22, 2002

Wonder in the Eyes
There’s really no way to experience the wonders of the modern world and the genius of technology like showing them to a 2 ½-year-old.

I am watching that wide-eyed look of wonder on the face of my youngest brother, Luke, as I show him how to open a screen door. How simple. How complex. What genius and glory.
What Will it Take?
Seraphim remains AWOL

Maybe if I quote Chomsky daily Seraphim won’t be able to resist returning. How could he resist returning on clouds of vengeance and wrath? With bait like that?

Come on. What’s it gonna take. I’m getting desperate.

For all our sakes let’s hope he doesn’t return with some limp “I’ve been real busy…” We’re talking blogging here. It doesn’t take that long it only sort-of has to be coherent.

As Chomsky so wisely said…

Please don’t make me do this here.

Jun 20, 2002

Timber tab goes to press in a triumph for Silliman

A 97-year-old man who lived the life of a logger and continues to cut timber.

A ghost town named by a classicist.

Pioneers dancing on the beach of the largest logging camp in the world.

Conflict between loggers, mills.

These are the most interesting stories I worked on for this project are now up at the documents site. The piece—a 20 page annual insert that is a salute to the timber industry that settled this area and a real money tree for the paper—went to print today and hits the streets Sunday.

I wrote all but three of the stories this year and those I oversaw. I worked by myself, doing three and a half weeks of research and writing, with almost no editorial oversight. I was given an idea and turned loose. I was worried about this at times—What if they didn’t like my interpretation of the idea? What if they had to scrap everything at the last minute or put in major rewrites?—but it was a roaring success

My editor loved it. His editor and the published loved it. The newsroom gather around the project to look at the historical photos I had gathered and asked questions. I pulled through again, fulfilling the trust (some of it crazy?) that was placed in my prowess as a reporter.

Of course, this thing is just for advertising, but maybe someone will actually read it and it is one major clip.
Seraphim seems to have deserted his blog and run away to join the Navy.

What’s worse is that his last words were an argument
against me.

Couldn’t he have left us with something better—either something more persuasive or a sort of final benediction—before he departed in the night?

If you see him, tell him: All is forgiven, please come home.
Because Liberation leads to the Faith, not Away
I’m in the middle of a primer biography on Thomas Aquinas by G. K. Chesterton I was reading about how Aquinas was one of the great liberators of the human mind but often this is incomprehensible because:
“Having assumed without argument, at the start, that all emancipation must lead men away from religion and towards irreligion, they have just blankly and blindly forgotten what is the outstanding feature of the religion itself.”

I have certainly found liberation—particularly mental liberation brought by education—to lead me deeper into Christianity, both in doctrine and practice. This is just one of the many jewels in this splendid little book. I am now enthralled with Aquinas and hungry for Chesterton.

Update:I have just purchased one of Chesterton’s books called “Orthodoxy.” It is apparently one of his most significant works.

Update II: My sister has discovered a neat website about Chesterton called “Who is this guy and why don't I know about him?”
There we go. Little technical glitch there. Seems to be all solved. Like a toddler, sometimes Blogger just has “owie” and you just have to “kiss it” to make it “all better.”

Jun 17, 2002

Until I can solve this linking problem this site will be down. Check back in a few days. I am planning a few changes (some potentially large ones) and some of those may also come to pass in this brief hiatus.

Meanwhile I'm off to Portland, Oregon tomorrow, to peruse the book store and partake of that city culture.


Jun 14, 2002

Unlinkable Links

So my links aren’t working. I don’t know why and could use help if you do. I’ve redone the links in the post and that doesn’t seem to fix it.

I’m stuck here folks.
When the press won’t name names
Instapundit is confused over journalistic practices in a case between a high school senior and her school.

What Reynolds can’t understand is why the parents of the senior are given anonymity. As a working reporter and a journalism student, I think I can straighten things out.

It is only industry self-regulation (some call it censorship) that causes a paper not to name someone. It is hard to hold a ethically consistent position and regularly not name those involved in stories, but most papers do it anyway.

Mostly this is done because the public gets upset, talks about the newspaper ruining people’s lives and “branding them for life,” which is all ridiculous nonsense.

In this particular case, naming the parents identifies the child. For example, it is routine (at least since the 1970s) practice to name the accused and not the accusers in rape trials. However, those charged with incest are not named because that would identify the alleged victim.

Minors are routinely not named in serious stories because people think a kid can’t recover from his mistakes if he has to deal with a reputation.

Lawsuits and trials are, of course, public documents and open to everyone who asks for them. A blogger could, for instance, walk to the local court house as to see the court files and publish the names of all those involved.

Even minor’s files are open while they are still minors. It is only after the 18th birthday that those documents are sealed.

That should clear things up, I hope,though this emphasizes the lack of knowledge Reynolds has for the industry he so regularly bashes.

As a lawyer--and everyone knows that lawyers are scum right down there with cops and ambulance chasers--he really should ease up.

Jun 12, 2002

Trust and Carelessness, Deadlines and Pressure
There will be a dearth of blogging the next few days. My project at the newspaper--producing this years annual insert about the timber industry--is coming to its deadline.

At this point the pressure is intense and everything has to come together and tie up and work. I’ve been given some responsibility and freedom with this for a variety of reasons including trust and carelessness. Because of and despite those reasons it is imperative for me to make this thing work.

I will return when I can and let you know of my success or failure.
Newspapers that people read
I was reading an article about story selection that had been photo copied and was floating around the news room here.

I found some of this interesting, hopeful when considering the future of newspapers and occasionally a bit troubling. The piece was by an editor named Michael Raffaele, published in Editor &Publisher on May 20, 2002.

“A relevant paper is a paper people are buying....Circulation can be the only measure.”

“Instead of trying to change the world, run stories that make people gasp.”

“A great newspaper will make people laugh, cry, or throw the product down with rage. An effective newspaper will scream at reader ‘Please read me!’ Unfortunately most newspapers today just whisper.”

Jun 11, 2002

Quietly and Happily 20
Well, today I am 20.

I celebrated on Sunday with my family, eating a special dinner, eating desert, playing a board game, watching a few movies and opening presents.

I received mostly books, which is as it should be. The largest present was a three volume set called : “Worship and Theology in England.” It is a comprehensive look at Church history in England and considers the different movements, their theological differences and their views on the various aspects of worship (including interesting records of the impacts on art architecture, etc.).

Today I am working, doing my normal stuff at the newspaper.

If we celebrated decades instead of years this birthday would be huge. Instead I am quietly and happily 20.
The Glories of Aquinas and Chesterton
I’m in the middle of a primer biography on Thomas Aquinas by G. K. Chesterton I was reading about how Aquinas was one of the great liberators of the human mind but often this is incomprehensible because:
“Having assumed without argument, at the start, that all emancipation must lead men away from religion and towards irreligion, they have just blankly and blindly forgotten what is the outstanding feature of the religion itself.”

I have certainly found liberation—particularly mental liberation brought by education—to lead me deeper into Christianity, both in doctrine and practice. This is just one of the many jewels in this splendid little book. Aquinas is a defender of the the rational, solid and earthy Christianity that I have demanded. I am now enthralled with Aquinas and hungry for Chesterton.

And this is of course only the begining of the glories I am finding between these two great men.
Investigative Reporting Tools
Reporter’s Desktop
Cyber Journalist

These two sites appear to be really similar. I have been familiar with the first one, run by an award winning investigative reporter at the Seattle Times named Duff Wilson. The second I ran across today and seems to be an imitation (though I have no idea which came first) and doesn’t offer me anything more.
Duff’s special handouts
are a particular score and useful in many situations.
Looking at the Details
A “Jewish Brasilian-Israeli girl,” living in Brazil and moving to Israel in one month, Renata has some interesting and, I think, good comments about the future of the Israel-Palestine conflict. In particular I enjoyed her look at the details. I have always agreed in a broad way with her pro-Israel sentiments but paid little attention to details of various plans.

She write a fascinating post a bit earlier—scroll down—about her trouble learning Hebrew.

Jun 8, 2002

What You Weren’t Told
In World War I we bought 450,000 dog skins from the Chinese for flying jackets.

Never know what you’ll find on the Internet while doing research.

Jun 7, 2002

Hope, brought to you by Homeschooling
Joel Miller has a good, strong, postmillennial-feeling piece on homeschooling and why we have hope for our future.

“When you realize that there are Christian families all across the nation imbuing their children with this sort of academic excellence and such a rigorously biblical worldview, can there be any room for gloom?” he writes.

Mayhem street?
What anti-Semitism?
This image of the French edition of Saul Bellow’s new book Ravelstein is supposed to be an example of latent anti-Semitism in France pushed subliminally.

I don’t see it. Maybe I just have no concept of anti-Semitism.

I certainly have no love lost on the French and no sympathy for anti-Semites, but how does this picture say Jews are evil?

I mean yeah the guy has a big nose and his hair comes to a point like a horn and he is an old man—but he looks cool. I’d like to know the man. I’d kind of like to be the man.

Here's the cover of the American published addition.

And how about that name? Ravelstein. It’s like the closest thing to Rumplestilskin that is still serious.

Anyway, I ordered the book.
Post Speech Analysis
Reading Bush's 13-minute speech and a few of the press reports on the government restructuring and the response to the intelligence, I think everything sounds like a good idea. At first brush at least, it sound good. I haven’t thought of anything wrong with it.

I was quite impressed at the politics of the move.

Instead of being the head of an administration riddled with failures and responsible for cover-ups and inadequate agencies, Bush has set forth a change. His is now the administration that responded to problems, set out to solve things. At the same time he didn't give up any ground and clearly stated that the information wasn't enough to stop the tragedy of September 11 with.

This is a hard position to assault. This doesn’t look political and because of that I think people will like it and think it has the potential to really stop some terrorism in the future.

He recognized the failures and has set out to counteract them. He takes terrorism and the previous failures seriously. Bush looks like the essence of responsibility and the man to lead.

Ted Kennedy, on the other hand, said the move was “shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.” So I guess America is the Titanic and there is nothing we can do. The Titanic sank and didn’t have any other option.

This, politically, is a really lousy position. How do you sell the defeatist position? How do you try to tell the American people to support you because they are damned no matter what?

I liked the White House statement that this was the biggest shakeup since Harry Truman was in office. “In the biggest government shakeup since Harry Truman was president…” sounds like something one of the old-time radio or TV reporters would have said. It was a really nice touch.

Jun 6, 2002

As the Apostle Paul [sort of] said,
I write what I do not want to write and what I want to write I do not write.

Which is why I have blogged often and yet I have still not written on some of the things I planned. I really think writing these things are worth my time. I want to write them and I should write them.

Jun 4, 2002

Chinese Literature takes on the Massacre that Killed Thousands, Defined Childhoods of Many
This is an interesting story on Chinese literature dealing with the events of Tiananmen Square. The murder of protesting students there impacted the children who were growing up in the area and are now writing, protesting, dealing with the events of those fateful days.
Bush Shifting Leftward
This piece by James K. Glassman is on target. I, a Bush-supporting conservative, am demoralized enough I will consider casting a no-confidence vote fo someone in the primaries.

What does the man think he’s doing? Where are the brilliant politics of Karl Rove? How can this make sense?

Jun 3, 2002

Now here is the romantic tradition of the hard-nosed, drinking, cynical reporter who turned out good copy and great newspapers.
The Boyhood of my Brothers
A list of commonly said things in my family’s home includes the phrase “Bang. You’re dead.” I think I’ve had a gunfight (in the old Western six-shooter stand off, O.K. Corral fashion) everyday since I’ve been home.

Today one of my five little brothers—the 7-year-old—wanted to sit in the back of the station wagon I was driving so he could be the “tail-gunner.”

I don’t think I knew about tail-gunners when I was 7.
Profiling is a Bad Idea. Very, Very Bad.
Over at National Review, John J. Miller complains about being searched in an airport and deprived of his screwdriver. He is tired of the petty searches and the refusal to profile in airport security.

As much as I like the folks at National Review and as much as I like to agree with them, profiling is one of the dumbest ideas that has ever lasted this long. Not because of all the liberal “it smells of racism,” “how dare you make an educated guess at who is and who isn’t a terrorist” reasons to oppose terrorism. I think profiling is dumb because I can’t figure out how it would work.

Couldn’t a half-thinking terrorist beat a profile? All unconventional war uses unpredictability and surprise. Terrorists aren’t going to do things the same way next time and they are going to do the unexpected. Only searching guys that have “direct from the mountains and deserts of the Middle East” stamped on their paper work just isn’t going to cut it.

When missionaries tried to sneak behind the Iron Curtain, they found traveling in couples effective because they could ask about scenic routes and guards assumed they were on a honeymoon and didn’t search as hard. Drug smugglers have long used children’s ice cream cones and babies diapers in the hope that those won’t be suspected and searched.

Randomness can’t be planned against. Searching the old lady may seem like a waste of time and we may catch the first old lady terrorist. We can only succeed if we expect the unexpected.

Of course, we should stop all the folks who look like terrorists--but they aren't the only ones who should be spot checked.